German Apple Pancake (The Vegetarian Epicure)

This is my favorite apple-pie sort of dessert. The batter for the pancake is very much like popovers, and come out of the oven, with a crispy, airy crunch. The filling is simplicity itself – apples, butter, sugar, and spices, cooked in the pan until the apples are tender. For the topping, we just like powdered sugar, and skip the optional melted butter.

When we first made it, we did not have a 12-inch heavy pan, so we decided to cook it in our 10-inch iron skillet, which caused the pancake to come out of the oven a little thicker and less flexible, but it was just such a good pancake. I find it addictively good. And it also doesn’t keep well, so reality will just have to twist your arm and your guests arms’ and force you to eat the entire thing when it’s warm.

“This is a pancake – just one – you bake, and it’s ready all at once for everyone, instead of a serving at a time. It can be a special-day breakfast for two or three people, a light, late supper, or a beautiful, warm dessert for 4 to 6 people. In that last category, I personally much prefer it to apple pie.” – Anna Thomas

3 large eggs
¾ cup milk
¾ cup white flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup thin-sliced apples (optional)

1 pound tart, fresh apples (Pippin are great)
¼ cup melted butter
¼ cup sugar
ground cinnamon and nutmeg

2 tablespoons melted butter (optional)
powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 450°. Beat together the eggs, milk, flour, and salt until very smooth. Add some very thinly sliced apples if desired. In a heavy 12-inch skillet, melt the 1 ½ tablespoons butter. As soon as it is quite hot, pour in the batter and put the skillet in the oven. After 15 min., lower the oven temperature to 350° and continue baking for another 10 min. The pancake should be light brown and crisp.

During the first 10 – 15 min. of baking, the pancake may puff up in large bubbles. If it does, pierce it thoroughly with a fork or skewer.

While the pancake is baking, prepare the apple filling. Peel and thinly slice the pound of apples. Sauté them lightly in the ¼ cup butter and add ¼ cup sugar. Season to taste with cinnamon and nutmeg. The apples should be just tender, not too soft. About 8 – 10 min. of cooking over medium flame should be plenty. (The filling can be prepared ahead and reheated just before serving.)

When the pancake is ready, slide it onto an oval platter, pour the apple filling over one side, and fold the other side over. A little melted butter can be poured on if you choose, and the whole thing carefully sprinkled with powdered sugar through a sieve. Serve at once, slicing pieces off crosswise.


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